projectGutenbergMy e-book adventures in the classroom continue. I taught the second lesson in my Grade 3/4 e-books unit this week! And I was grateful to my mother for getting a brand-new Kobo for her birthday just the day before. She sent me a text message imploring me to help her. How can she put some books on it? How can I set it up so she can get some new ones herself, since she’ll be in Florida all winter and will need to do this on her own?

These were all excellent questions for an e-book newbie to consider, so I shared the message with the kids and asked them what they thought of it. Well, how does one get an e-book onto the reader, then? Anybody?

We then had a look at two e-book websites, to give them an idea of how this worked. I had their rapt attention. They are loving this stuff!

1) Project Gutenberg

I started with Project Gutenberg, because all of the books are free. I also thought it would be nice to show them a somewhat less pretty site first, so that when we got to Amazon, they could compare it with a slicker store. I introduced the concept of copyright to them and explained that everything on Project Gutenberg was older because it was there since the copyright had expired and people could use the books as they saw fit.

One of the titles we looked at (a nursery rhyme storybook) had a license on it, and they noticed and remarked on it. The license said the book was free for all to use, but you could not charge money for it. They asked how anyone would know if you didn’t follow the rules. Great question!

They could have spent more time on this—they loved Project Gutenberg! But we were losing our afternoon class to a school-wide track and field competition, so I had to cut short their explorations. Onto Amazon!

2) Amazon

I then logged into my Amazon account and told them we were going to buy a book. Right now. They eyes bugged out. During class, in the middle of school, in front of them, I was going to do this? Yes, I was. I showed them the rough layout of the Amazon homepage. It was all pretty intuitive. We hopped on over to my wishlist and I opened up two books for them (I had pre-screened my wishlist and created one that only had kid-friendly books on it!)

We compared a few things about the books—the price, the reviews and so on. I gave them a few tips about how to read a review (they readily grasped the idea that people might lie, and I taught them the word ‘sockpuppet’)! and we compared the prices, looked at the sample, and then…the big moment. I clicked the buy now button. Then I picked up my iPad and opened up the Kindle app.

And there it was. They watched in awe as the little progress bar turned yellow and the book downloaded before their very eyes. Magic!

Next week, we’re going to explore Project Gutenberg a little more since they liked it so much, and I am going to let them download a book from there onto the school iPads to read. And we are going to start our big project, wherein we write our own eBook, to share what we learned with the parent community. I will keep you posted!


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